Miguel-Adorn Remix ft. Jessie Ware

jessie ware
This single has got some serious longevity. Released almost a year ago, its popularity seems to show little sign of waning, and Jessie Ware now helps to extend its shelf-life even further.

It’s a great feature too. Instead of slipping into the simplicity of just contributing a guest verse, Jessie provides a gently contrasting set of vocals throughout, turning the track into a type of duet that has a fantastically old-school flavour. The original had a strong R&B vibe, but this addition certainly helps drag it across into the soul territory a little, and for those of you that have played the original to death, the extent of Jessie’s contribution makes it a worthwhile rework that you can throw on in place of the original to refresh its sound. Given that it’s been given radio play and acknowledgement by Jessie on Twitter, I’d expect an official release in due course.

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J. Cole-Born Sinner (Full Album Stream)

Cole set up a bunch of listening sessions a few days ago, each at a specific bunch of co-ordinates across various locations for those unable/uninvited to the main NYC album premiere, and now provides the full LP for stream a full 11 days before its release.

A mixture of reasons make up that decision; it’s surely as motivated by the recent leak of his album as it is by the confidence he has in the material, and hence it might not have been Cole’s preferred time for this stream release. Nonetheless, he’s backing himself, and I thoroughly hope the material stands up to scrutiny- given the generally negative response amongst the hip-hop community to his debut album, there’s no denying Cole needs this one to come off, and all of the early signs are that he’s definitely surpassed that disappointing first take. Features are as expected from the tracklist release some time ago, with Kendrick Lamar, TLC, James Fauntleroy, Amber Coffman and Miguel all appearing, whilst the deluxe edition of the album will also include Truly Yours 3, which features 50 Cent and Jhene Aiko. Stream the project (without Truly Yours 3) here

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Miguel-How Many Drinks? Remix ft. Kendrick Lamar (Video)

Miguel has become one of a handful of R&B artists keeping the genre mainstream without turning too ‘pop’, and with Kendrick being a mirror of that for hip-hop, this is a poetic coming together.

With that said, this isn’t a track I’ve immediately taken to. As ever, Miguel’s vocals aren’t lacking at all, but it feels stuck somewhere between a Maxwell slow jam and a chart-friendly R&B number, and hence it gets lost at times in terms of its intended purpose. The verses are full of bedroom music crooning, accompanied by a gentle production that rightfully opts to support rather than match Miguel’s vocals, but the hook instead seems to take a few steps back to opt for a catchy vibe, rather than building on the progressive verses. Kendrick’s contribution generally retains the track’s momentum, and though his sharp tones do occasionally sound out of place on the mellow backdrop, his lyricism is contextual enough to work through it. It’s not a bad song by any means, and though I’m sure it’ll continue to improve with time, it’s not one that I’m itching to give another spin.

The video’s minimalism is a good stylistic choice, enhancing the simple production, organics of Miguel’s voice, and the sultry vibe of the lyricism. I’m particularly keen on the fact Miguel doesn’t feel the need to constantly have his face on camera, and is rather more focused on creating the right environment to visualise his works. A good video for an audio that many mainstream heads will appreciate.

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J. Cole-Power Trip ft. Miguel (Video)

There are reasons why I shouldn’t (and many don’t) like this song, but it’s been an absolute fixture in my playlists since its release. As written in the audio review, it’s a laidback piece that smoothly incorporates plenty of soul elements, and from top to bottom its a well-executed slice of mainstream hip-hop.

The accompanying visual takes an easy lyrical subject matter, and adds a very watchable additional layer of storytelling. Rather than focus solely on Cole’s pining, the video takes a much darker route from the offset; the lighting almost makes it difficult to properly view, whilst the intentionally obscured early scenes create a general sense of unease and distortion that clearly helps you get into Cole’s mindset. Soon after, it becomes clear why: his targeted female is already in a relationship (with Miguel, the ‘steady, 9-5 guy’ apparently), and he literally gets rid of his competition. Rather than focusing on that action though, the video opts to spotlight Cole’s regret and guilt over what he’s done, and that helps to bring out the reflective production and some of the introspection in Cole’s raps, whilst the using the end of Miguel’s vocal sections as visual transitions makes for a striking effect. Gradually, the video gains clarity in terms of lighting and lack of camera obstruction, possibly a sign of Cole’s improving mental state, before heading back to the darkness of the opening to close. Engrossing watch throughout, and another strong Nabil-directed clip. Song available on iTunes now, the Born Sinner album on 25th June.

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J. Cole-Power Trip ft. Miguel

j cole miguel
As he promised earlier this week, Cole comes through with the (latest) first single from Born Sinner. Having worked together to launch Miguel’s solo career close to 3 years ago, it’s good to see them come together once more, especially with Miguel’s status rightfully skyrocketing in the last 12 months or so.

Most hip-hop heads will probably deem this one a little too mainstream for their tastes and that’s perfectly understandable, but I’m a fan of this. The production’s a good blend between a laidback soul anthem and a crunching hip-hop jam, and whilst they may sound diametrically opposed, the combination of powerful percussion and soft melodies does indeed work quite well. The same blend is semi-present in the vocal work too, with Miguel’s work being of the soulful variety, as expected, whilst Cole’s verses are blunt and sharply delivered, though Cole’s movement to vocals on the hook does soften his performance. Credit to both for bridging that soul and hip-hop blend in a unique way here, and I’ll give this one some play time for sure.

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Miguel-On These Wings

With 5 Grammy nominations, Miguel looks to be getting the acclaim he was always capable of earning, and he’s put out two older unreleased tracks this week to keep fans satisfied.

Bawdy didn’t really have much of note to enjoy, and truthfully this one isn’t a mindblower either. However, younger pop fans and heads who like a bit of old school R&B might enjoy this one significantly more than I did, as it’s clean cut music with a shiny, ready-for-everyone veneer.

Soft percussion, gentle keys and light synths combine for an easygoing backdrop, with Miguel delivering spades of emotion with his textbook pop/pop-R&B performance, pulling his usually clever lyricism down a little to a more mainstream-friendly level, and keeping his vocals packed with a positive edge that gives this a squeaky-clean feel. It’s a far cry from his more edgy recent material, but a bit of variety never hurt anyone and this sort of music will only serve to widen his appeal.

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Miguel-Adorn Remix ft. Eve

Those Eve remixes just keep coming, and this time she’s tacked a verse onto Miguel’s popular (and excellent) single, Adorn.

Once again, the brief nature of her contribution leaves you wanting a little more, but there’s no doubt now she’s ready to put some new, lengthier material out: her verse is a nice addition to the track, playing off Miguel’s lyrical theme well and keeping in line with the mood of the track, unlike other attempted remixes of this track which kill the momentum of the track rather than enhance it.

Not much else to say given Eve’s abbreviated contribution, but you get a few minutes of listening to the original, uninterrupted version after her verse, and frankly that’s never a bad thing. Grab Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream album if you haven’t already, or stream it in full here.

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Trey Songz, Miguel and Elle Varner-2013 UK Tour Dates

A tour R&B heads shouldn’t be missing. Miguel and Elle Varner have really come into their own with strong projects this year, whilst Trey is no slouch. Part of a tour spanning several countries, UK dates below.

Monday 28th January – LG Arena, Birmingham
Tuesday 29th January – Colston Hall, Bristol
Wednesday 30th January – Hammersmith Apollo, London
Thursday 31st January – Hammersmith Apollo, London
Friday 1st February – Hammersmith Apollo, London
Saturday 2nd February – Hammersmith Apollo, London
Monday 4th February – Apollo, Manchester
Tuesday 5th February – Academy, Glasgow
Wednesday 6th February – Academy, Glasgow

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Miguel-The Thrill (Video)

“I wanted to capture that unmistakable, unavoidable, unapologetic energy behind epic nights. This video is a wild montage of my favorite moments within a single day of celebration. Real memories created amongst real friends and real family.”

First heard on one of Miguel’s album preview EPs a little under a month ago, this was definitely one of the tracks that suggested Miguel’s album would do far more justice to his capabilities than his debut, and hence it’s a good choice for a single.

He only dropped off the video for Do You a few days back, and is already throwing this one out there to really capitalise on the good feeling surrounding him and his work. The production’s slow, sharp guitar plucks give this a great pacing, something the video seeks to contrast with quick cutaways being the primary effect used, switching between various party, performance and other scenes. Nothing too complicated, but a fairly easy watch for a smooth audio. Stream the full Kaleidoscope Dream album, or grab it for yourself on iTunes now.

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Miguel-Kaleidoscope Dream (Full Album Stream)

Miguel’s release style for this album has been commendably unique, and finally we’re treated to his entire sophomore LP. With that 2nd October release date a little over a week away, this is a step by Miguel that suggests he has absolute confidence in the material.

Many Miguel fans will be familiar with large chunks of this album, but there’s plenty of new work to enjoy. Truthfully, his debut album was disappointing, but his stock has risen again considerably since putting out a series of EPs earlier this year. He’s demonstrated the skills, consistency and beat selections to back up all of that ever-increasing hype, a trait I expect to continue through the 11-tracks here, and one that should erase memories of his disappointing debut.

His diversity has shone through across his material in the last year, and hence he’s not someone who needs features due to the ever-changing nature of his style. However, the lone Alicia Keys feature will definitely warrant some attention. Shouts to NPR for the early release stream, be sure to grab the LP next Tuesday.

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Miguel-Kaleidoscope Dream: The Air Preview EP

We recieved the first part of Miguel’s unique and creative release schedule a little over a month ago, and it undoubtedly caught the interest of many R&B heads. Miguel’s actually come through a few days early (a music rarity!) with the second instalment, a sign of confidence in his material, and he’s right to be.

Again, it comes in at a brief 3 tracks long but its enough to whet the appetite for the album. Do You starts as a slowed down effort with some playful lyricism, before moving into a funkier, more positive style as the track unfolds in what is a nice progression. The title track, Kaleidoscope Dream, grabs the unforgettable bassline from Eminem’s My Name Is, repurposing it for Miguel’s soulful vocals which are at their airy, drifty best throughout this, before The Thrill closes things off with a jagged guitar melody and a more emotional vocal style. Once again, it’s a diverse collection from the diversly-talented Miguel, and I’m looking forward to the final instalment next month.

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Miguel-Adorn Video

There was a version of this included on his Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1, and being many fans’ favourite track from the entire series, it made it onto the very recent Kaleidoscope Dream: Water Preview EP, and hence will feature on his upcoming Kaleidoscope Dream LP.

Still with me? Good. This is the finished version of the ADC Vol. 1 track for those who haven’t heard that most recent EP yet, and it’s a great effort that really stands out in the sea of mediocrity that is the current R&B scene. It’s slow, sexy and packed with boatloads of cool, courtesy of a sultry production and excellent vocals from Miguel from start to finish.

The video complements the audio nicely, keeping the mood dark and unpredictable, whilst thematically focusing on duality throughout: there’s Miguel’s slick smart threads up against his rougher street wear, the mysterious masked woman being a polar opposite to the cheerleaders, and the confines of a small rooms and tight corridors versus the freedom of the outdoors where Miguel waits by his car. Worth a watch, definitely worth a listen, and be sure to hunt down that EP.

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Miguel-Kaleidoscope Dream: Water Preview EP

Miguel’s gearing up to release his sophomore album, Kaleidoscope Dreams, and after the success of his Art Dealer Chic series of EPs earlier this year, he’s following its release style by putting the project out in three parts.

This marks the first instalment, with Kaleidoscope Dream: Air Preview due on 11 September, before Miguel drops off the full-length Kaleiodscope Dreams on 3 October, combining the 2 preview EPs with some brand new material. It’s a unique approach and if it (literally) pays off, expect many artists to follow suit.

You can stream the EP below over at Spin, and be sure to grab it on iTunes when it lands on Tuesday.

Miguel-Kaleidoscope Dream: Water Preview EP

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Miguel-Art Dealer Chic Vol. 3

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Miguel’s ADC series, and there’s no doubt that those who have given any or both of the previous instalments a try will hold Miguel in much higher regard as a result. Sadly, this is the final volume of the series but here’s to hoping that means there’s a full-length project on the way.

The three track EP opens with Party Life, a lively effort that stays true to its title, boasting a nice tempo alongside a scratchy bass and some catchy vocal for a good upbeat track that’ll make many playlists better. Ooh Aah! slows things down with an edgy guitar riff helping to create a punchy backdrop, whilst the slow pace of it all adds an intensity to the diverse vocal work, whilst Candles In The Sun lands takes another step away from the positivity of the opening track, as a somewhat dark and menacing production with often moody lyricism from Miguel. Another solid three-pack from Miguel: stream it here, or download it below.

Miguel-Art Dealer Chic Vol. 3

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R&B Fridays: Episode 143

After a few weeks away, R&B Fridays is back and swollen with star quality for this week’s edition. Of course, in keeping with tradition, it’s also released on a Sunday. Nice to be back into routine eh?

Not too much to catch up on in terms of related audio posts, but there are a few videos that’ll interest the R&BF crowd, including Rita Ora’s debut visual, Preeya Kalidas’ latest effort, and a couple of new clips from Drake’s Take Care. Head on below to compliment that visual feast with some audio refreshment.
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Miguel-Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1

The first of 3 EP’s Miguel is set to release this year (alongside talk of his sophomore LP), he hits R&B fans with 3 excellent tracks to get the Art Dealer Chic series off to a flying start.

Adorn blends a slow jam sensibility with a soulful energy, as the laidback, relatively slow-paced production is blended with powerful and diverse vocal work from Miguel. It’s an effective mix that showcases Mig’s crossover abilities well. That I Do (FTRMX) is a livelier offering, relying more on the cacophony of sounds in the production to drive the track on rather than Miguel’s vocal work, though the performance from him is typically consistent throughout. Gravity has a strong hip-hop sensibility in the beat, with a real head-nodding combination of pounding percussion and deep melodies, and the vocals are adjusted appropriately as he dials it back a little on the emotion to ride the natural bounce of the track. A good triumverate of tracks, and I’d recommend them to any R&B head. Free download available below, stream available here.

Miguel-Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1

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R&B Fridays: Episode 122

Whilst the hip-hop world has been extremely busy this week, it’s been a slower week in the R&B world. Hence, there’s only the one post to catch up on from the week gone by, with a smooth, very enjoyable effort from one of the better entities to emerge from Odd Future, The Internet, though I expect many R&BF fans will also be interested in the latest single from Drake’s upcoming album.

Get your fingers at the ready, and get to clicking below for this week’s gooey treats.

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Wale and Miguel-Lotus Flower Bomb

Brand new single from Wale’s upcoming sophomore album, Ambition, set to be released on 1st November (or 11.1.11., as he spams daily on Twitter!).

A very solid effort too, and one that should be extremely popular with the mainstream crowd. The production is easygoing, with mellow, mesmeric synth work alongside a percussion that winds slowly throughout the track, and sprinklings of more electronic elements thrown in for a little diversity. Miguel does an excellent job with the hook, crooning his way to a catchy, passionate effort that contrasts with the laidback production to really project his voice, whilst Wale’s verses are enjoyable enough as he experiments with a range of flows and keeps the subject matter accessible and mainstream friendly. A decent all-rounder.

Wale-Lotus Flower Bomb ft. Miguel

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R&B Fridays: Episode 102

On we roll with the institution of institutions, and it’s probably fair to say that the highlight of this week’s R&B has already been posted: having finally got around to listening to The Weeknd’s debut project I was incredibly impressed by it, and would wholeheartedly recommend you R&B Friday fans checked it out.

In addition to that, the past week saw visuals for the latest T-Pain and Chris Brown collab, Frank Ocean dropped off some enjoyable visuals for one of his lesser-known tracks, and finally a big collaboration between Lloyd, Trey Songz and Young Jeezy.

Click below to grab what else we’ve got in store this week.
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R&B Fridays: Episode 100

Centenaries are a rare thing in many walks of life, so I speak for both past and present, writing and non-writing members of the OTU team when I thank you sincerely for your dedication to our online presence. Whilst various weekly serials have come and gone, this has stood strong for 100 weeks, so we genuinely thank you for your support here in R&B Fridays. Having been introduced in our very first week, this also marks our 100th week online, so thanks again for all of your support in getting us this far.

As it’s a milestone episode, it felt like the right decision to award Frank Ocean the honour of representing this occasion. I can hear your outrage: ‘why not a staple of the episodes, like Lloyd or Usher?’. Well, we like to look forward, and frankly (sorry) I feel he’s really going to dominate this series for the next 100 episodes, and deservedly so.

Click below for your regular weekly instalment: two days late, in keeping with tradition! I’ve also got a little extra something to celebrate the occasion coming shortly after this…
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R&B Fridays: Episode 98

I’ve turned up late to the party once again, so I’m not going to mess you around with a long intro here. That’s helped by only having one relevant and noteworthy post from the week gone by, that being Erin Christine’s latest single.

Click below to fill your empty stomachs with R&B/pop/soul nourishment.

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R&B Fridays: Episode 90

Genuinely tried to get this out yesterday, but once again we suffered from a lack of material. I’ve managed to half fix that problem, though this is still a shorter episode than you’re probably used to.

However, there’s been lots of pop/R&B posted in the last week that may help fill that void: new Bruno Mars visuals, Willow Smith’s latest single, the announcement of an awesome 90s hip-hop and R&B night in Camden, a strong introduction to UK upcomer CleoSol, J.Lo and Pitbull’s latest collab, and finally some new Timbaland and Brandy.

Click below for the 90th instalment of the longest running weekly episodic ever.
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Miguel and Gilbere Forte-Hard Way Remix

Every so often, a track pops up on here that puts together everything I enjoy from R&B into one neat, slick package. This would be one of those rare occasions, making this track essential listening.

Atmospheric, ethereal synth work is weaved into pulsating, midtempo drum work to give this track one of the best productions I’ve heard from the R&B game in quite some time. Miguel is one of my favourite vocalists in the R&B/soul scene, and comes through with a soaring, captivating and skilled vocal performance that makes full use of the production’s peaks and troughs: the hook in particular is very memorable, giving this one the potential to appeal to just about anyone.

The icing on the cake is a couple of very assured contributions from the ever-passionate Gilbere Forte, coming through on the relationship/love style that I’ve not heard him try out yet and passing with flying colours, adding a wholesome and complete feel to the song. Fantastic track all-round.

Miguel-Hard Way Remix ft. Gilbere Forte

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R&B Fridays: Episode 87

Is it me, or is it taking pretty long to get to episode 100?! I feel like we’ve been in the 80s forever!

Either way, the R&B/pop keeps coming thick and fast with another well-proportioned episode for you this week. Four R&B-related OTU items for you from the week gone by: the latest video from the Dirty Money trio, the first mixtape offering from Dirty Money’s Dawn Richard, visuals for Sean Garrett and J. Cole’s collaboration, and finally the official remix of Chipmunk and Chris Brown’s collab, also featuring J. Cole.

Click on for music and a whole pile of related text.
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R&B Fridays: Episode 82

Once again, it’s not quite a Friday. However, with the busy Christmas/New Year period over, hopefully these will be back on regular schedule from next week!

The past week has seen some pretty interesting R&B/pop pieces: Duck Sauce came through with a great remix of Chromeo and Elly Jackson’s single, the well-respected Jackie Boyz dropped off a mixtape, Marsha Ambrosius delivered an incredibly thoughtful video, Eminem remixed Dirty Money’s Hello, Good Morning, and we were also treated to two more Dirty Money remixes. Click below for this week’s instalment.
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R&B Fridays: Episode 75

A more digestable episode this week, which makes a nice change for us all having had a few extended instalments in recent weeks.

Outside of this episode, it’s been a fairly quiet week for R&B, with just the three notables: a video for Rihanna and Drake’s collaboration, new music from UK upcomer Talay Riley, and the latest drop from Trey Songz’s upcoming mixtape.

Click below for the 75th instalment of R&B’s favourite weekly episodical.

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R&B Fridays: Episode 70

Over the last 70 episodes, we’ve delivered music from your favourite acts, introduced you to some new and exiciting ones, and of course given a new lease of life to otherwise forgotten artists. To celebrate that, I’ve ensured this week’s episode covers all of that ground nicely, to keep everyone satisfied.

Not much to recap on this week, besides two big video premieres from Rihanna and Lloyd. Click on to grab a chunky, 20+ track episode that’ll keep you going for a while.

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Rick Ross/Raekwon/Miguel/Jazmine Sullivan (Remixes)

So Raekwon adds a verse to Miguel’s awesome track, then Rick Ross comes out with his own remix for it as well as doing a remix of Jazmine Sullivan’s Holding You Down. Raekwon has now come out with his version of Jazmine’s track. I think this has been a wasted opportunity, they could have clubbed together and did the remixes together rather than them both just having a short opening verse for each track. Anyway no more remixes of these tracks please, I’m done with them.

Miguel – All I Want Is You (remix) ft. Rick Ross
Jazmine Sullivan – Holding You Down (remix) ft. Rick Ross

Jazmine Sullivan – Holding You Down (remix) ft. Raekwon

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Miguel/Raekwon – All I Want Is You (Remix)

Fresh from branching out of his own lane and collaborating with Justin Bieber, Raekwon once again steps out of his comfort zone and lays a verse to Miguel & J. Cole’s excellent All I Want Is You track. Given the nature of this beat I shouldn’t be surprised to hear Rae spit on it, it’s definitely got that Wu vibe, Ghostface Killah would body this song for sure!

Miguel – All I Want Is You ft. Raekwon & J. Cole (remix)

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